Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has traveled to Ukraine for the first time since the war began. In the port city of Odessa on the Black Sea, the SPD politician was received by her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Resnikov on Saturday.
Because of an air alarm, Lambrecht had to seek shelter in a bunker at times. The alarm in the port city of Odessa lasted about 45 minutes on Saturday afternoon. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said the Russians shot down a Kalibr missile, most likely from a ship. In the bunker he advertised the delivery of anti-ship missiles.
Lambrecht also inspected a Gepard anti-aircraft tank originally from Germany. At the site where the system was used in the Odessa grain port, the SPD politician said on Saturday that it would help protect "critical infrastructure" and ward off Russian air raids. From the port, Ukrainian grain is exported to the world via the Black Sea.
Reznikov said Ukraine will fight until all its territories are liberated, including Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed from Russia in 2014. Lambrecht emphasized: "Brutality must not be successful." Although she showed understanding for Kiev's demand that Russia be declared a terrorist state, she did not explicitly agree. It is important that the EU remains united on the sanctions. Additional sanctions must be discussed. "That's the right way. Putin didn't expect the EU to remain so closed."
The minister also showed understanding for Ukraine's application to be quickly admitted to NATO. For such a procedure, however, certain conditions would have to be met. "And it is very important that NATO has taken a clear position that we will not become a party to the war. We made that clear at the beginning of this conflict and we will continue to do so."
Lambrecht also visited injured soldiers in a military hospital. When Resnikov honored deserving soldiers, she thanked the women and men for their commitment to the sovereignty of Ukraine and European values. The courageous fight of the Ukrainians against the aggressor Russia is viewed with great respect in Germany, she said.